Robin Schrade, M.A.

Universitätsstr. 105
44789 Bochum
Room: UNI 105, 3/32


Title of the Dissertation

Whoever seeks, can also be found: Historical Problems of the organization of knowledge.

Project Description

The comfortable search in the world wide web is currently sparking debates concerning the self-determination of the individual. Search engines like Google allow a general access to knowledge, but also provoke doubts and distrust: not just because the search results are manipulable, but especially because the searcher himself or herself must fear becoming an object of observation. Thus, each tracked search request points to an intention, each intention to a person: to a friend, a customer, a potential terrorist. The search becomes a trap: generating visibility and directing attention to an individual. Whoever seeks can also be found.

This dissertation project will examine the extent to which the mechanisms of digital search technologies, oscillating between overview and surveillance, can be traced back to historical techniques of searching and finding. Inspired by Michel Foucault, search techniques will be read as mechanisms of power as well as knowledge. The focus is on the similarities and differences between current digital search engines on the world wide web and their analog predecessors.

Within the scope of the analysis, various analog search techniques that have come into being since the beginning of the early modern period will be investigated and linked with the contemporary situation. These historical objects range from searching in books and libraries to the business ideas of urban intelligence offices to the dragnet investigations conducted by police departments. The goal is to examine how techniques of searching and finding influence the development of the modern knowledge society and its subjects.

Scholarly Career

  • Since 09/2020: Coordinator of the DFG Graduate Research Group on “Documentary Practices. Excess and Privation” and Research Assistant at the Institute of Media Studies (RUB)
  • 10/2016 to 08/2020: Doctoral Student Member of the DFG Graduate Research Group on “Documentary Practices. Excess and Privation”, Ruhr-University Bochum
  • 04/2016 to 07/2020: Doctoral Student in Media Studies (Prof. Dr. Friedrich Balke), Ruhr-University Bochum (finished PhD with summa cum laude in July 2020).
  • 04/2016 to 09/2016: Research Assistant at the Institute of Media Studies, at the chair of Prof. Dr. Friedrich Balke, Ruhr-University Bochum
  • 04/2016 to 07/2016: Lecturer at the Insitute of Theater Studies, Ruhr-University Bochum
  • 10/2015 to 02/2016: Tutor and Research Assistant at the Insitute of Theater Studies, Ruhr-University Bochum
  • 04/2015 to 07/2015: Tutor and Research Assistant at the Insitute of Theater Studies, Ruhr-University Bochum
  • 09/2014 to 01/2015: Studies abroad at the University Charles de Gaulle in Lille, France (Études Cinématographiques)
  • 10/2013 to 09/2015: Scholarship granted by the Hans‐Lothar and Ursula Brandt ‐ Foundation
  • 04/2013 to 11/2015: Master studies in Media Studies, Ruhr-University Bochum
  • 11/2012 to 04/2014: Assistant to Prof Dr. Erich Hörl, Media Studies, Ruhr-University Bochum
  • 04/2011 to 04/2013: Assistant to Prof Dr. Guido Hiß, Theatre Studies, Ruhr-University Bochum
  • 01/2011 to 03/2011: IT and technology officer and video archivist of the Department of Theatre, Ruhr-University Bochum
  • 10/2009 to 10/2012: Bachelor studies in Media Studies and Theatre Studies, Ruhr-University Bochum


  • Schrade, Robin (2020): Die Kunst des Suchens. In: Marcel Beyer und GRK 2132: Exzess und Entzug. Ferres vor Gursky, Ferres vor Immendorff. Leipzig: Spector Books.
  • Schrade, Robin (2019): Die Suchmaschine als Black Box. Leipzig: Troittoir Noir.
  • Schrade, Robin (2018): Dokumentierte Absichten. Die Suchanfrage als Ego-Dokument. In: Christine Hämmerling und Daniela Zetti (Hg.) (2018): Das dokumentierte Ich. Wissen in Verhandlung. Zürich, Chronos Verlag.
  • Schrade, Robin (2013): (Gott) ‘Draußen vor der Tür’ in Bochum. In: SchauplatzRuhr 2013 – Jahrbuch zum Theater im Ruhrgebiet. Berlin: Theater der Zeit. (Review)


  • “Ordnen und Bewahren um 1800. Bibliotheken einrichten mit Martin Schrettinger.” Presentation at the Summer Academy on Media Philology, 27.08.2019, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, USA.
  • “Whoever seeks, can also be found.” Presentation at the Princeton-Weimar Summer School, 27.06.2019, at the IKKM Weimar.
  • „Wer sucht, kann gefunden werden. Kulturhistorische Probleme der Wissensorganisation“ given on November 29, 2018 as part of the lecture course Das Dokumentarische II, RUB
  • „Sherlock’s Mind Palace. Zeitgenössische Visualisierungen des Suchens und Findens“ given on February 13, 2018 as part of the FFK#31 at the Ruhr-University Bochum
  • „Zwischen Transparenz und Opazität. Die Suchmaschine als Black Box“ given on October 06, 2017 as part of the „Jahrestagung der Gesellschaft für Medienwissenschaft 2017“ at the Friedrich-Alexander-University in Erlangen.
  • „Zwischen Übersicht und Überwachung. Die Suchanfrage als Ego-Dokument“ given on April 22, 2017 as part of the workshop „Das Dokumentierte Ich. Wissenskulturen und –medien im Wandel“ at the ETH Zürich.

University Courses

  • Summer term 2016: Seminar “Zwischen Übersicht und Überwachung. Eine Kulturgeschichte der Suchmaschine”, Media Studies, Ruhr-University Bochum
  • Summer term 2016: Seminar “Inszeniertes Leben. Autobiographisches Erzählen in Theater und Performance”,  Theatre Studies, Ruhr-University Bochum
  • Winter term 2015: Seminar “Einführungstutorium in die Techniken des wissenschaftlichen Arbeitens”, Theatre Studies, Ruhr-University Bochum
  • Summer term 2015: Seminar “Jenseits der Narration? Erzählungen im Theater der Gegenwart” Theatre Studies, Ruhr-University Bochum


  • Participation in the conception, realization and moderation of the conference “GegenDokumentation“, 08.-10.11.2018, RUB (within the Graduate Research Group on “Documentary Practices. Excess and Privation”)
  • Participation in the conception, realization and moderation of the Summer Academy “Media Philology” in cooperation with the German Departement of the Rutgers-University, New Brunswick, 20. – 24. 08.2018, RUB (with Rupert Gaderer, Nina Janz, Elisa Linseisen, funded by the Research School of the Ruhr-University Bochum)
  • Participation in the conception, realization and moderation of the Workshop “Digitale Interventionen” 14.05.2018, RUB (with Katja Grashöfer)
  • Participation in the conception, realization and moderation of the conference “Transparente Welten. Netzwerk, Sicherheit, Anonymität”, 18.07.2014, RUB
  • Member of “Gesellschaft für Medienwissenschaft (GfM)”